I love this website. Forvo.com. It allows anyone to upload a pronounciation of any word in any language meaning there is a growing online repository of random multilingual words, as recorded by any vistor who happens to end up at the site. Arabic nouns, Tagalog adjectives, Finnish adverbs – you name it.
I found out about Forvo via the Israeli daily Ha’Aretz’s brilliant ‘web guide’ mailout which informs me each week of five of the most interesting and far-out websites around. Go on,
click on a word. You just click on words in a list linked to an audio file and most of the time a map will appear, marking the speaker’s location. The purpose of the site seems to be purely for listening to how words in various languages are pronounced – I mean, there’s no explanation in English of the meanings of the words (the site’s main language is English) and there only appears to be six categories. At the moment there are words recorded in 209 languages, but this must be growing.
It’s really fun as well to hear a range of voices and there’s also something welcoming about hearing real people’s voices coming out of your computer speakers.
So in the English section, for example, I stumbled upon a pronounciation of ‘gabardine‘ which took me to the source of the pronounciation, ‘imscotte1’ in the US. You can subscribe to individual’s pronounciations. imscotte1 must be an interesting character, as he’s uploaded a selection of words which includes: ‘vas deferens,’ ‘gadfly,”LSD,’ ‘tomato’ and ‘Barack Obama.’ The man’s recorded 480 words for Pete’s sake!
[It turns out his real name is Scott when he’s not being a Silicon Valleyengineer, he records books for the visually impaired and learning/physically disabled. He clearly likes the sound of his own voice].
It reminds me of looking in people’s shopping trollies to see what kind of diet they have and to make presumptions about their lifestyle. Not that I do that. . .